Are you sabotaging your success by not keeping your word?

Are you sabotaging your success by not keeping your word?

Last week, I read an interview with Dr. Michael Jensen, Chairman of Social Science Research Network (SSRN) that put me into a momentary internal tail spin.

You see, if you had asked me last week if I am a person of integrity, like most people I would have responded with a resounding YES! That is, if you had asked me this question before I read Dr. Jensen’s interview on the topic of integrity.

After all, as a spiritual teacher who has spent most of her adult life self employed, I’ve had to cultivate and demonstrate incredible amounts of commitment, compassion, dedication, perseverance, and more introspection than most people practice in a lifetime.

As I read Dr. Jensen’s interview, however, an alternate reality began to set in. None of those qualities meant anything in the book of integrity. A set of blinders I had never even noticed dropped away, and for the first time in my life, I came face to face with one of my greatest flaws: If I was perfectly honest, from a scale of one to ten, I ranked at best at a FIVE on the integrity scale.

OUCH!

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Can you win at life without being vulnerable?

Can you win at life without being vulnerable?

I might as well have been naked on stage. 

It was my turn to share a piece I wrote with my writer’s group, which consisted of more than 30 highly-skilled professionals, many of them published, lecturing, or script-doctoring for a living. And this in Los Angeles, where even your uber driver is one meeting away from becoming the next Stephen King, and it takes a whole process to find and be accepted into a group of active, working writers who meet regularly. 

I presented 25 pages of my latest thriller script, which I had temporarily titled “Untitled Femme Fatale,” or rather that’s what it was called in my head. 

On paper, however, written in big bold letters on the cover page that each of my 9 actors received, the title appeared as, “Untitled Femme Fatal.” A simple, yet potentially fatal mistake for anyone not comfortable with rolling with the punches. 

To make matters worse, I did not find out about this mistake on my own. It wasn’t until the table read of my script had commenced that I was alerted to it by my narrator. 

“Untitled Femme FATAL by Ellie Shoja,” my reader began, not without taking pleasure in milking the mistake. Three more times, I would hear the word “FATAL” instead of “fatale,” each time a small jab in my already bruised heart — how could I have not caught that? 

For a writer, this is as close as it gets to a nightmare scenario — to stand in front of a group of your peers and not only share something you’ve written in its beginning stages, but to also expose yourself as a potential fraud by showcasing your ignorance.

In those 45 minutes that it took to read and discuss my script, I clambered through all the familiar emotions that accompany extreme vulnerability: shame, weakness, betrayal, fear. 

But the story does not end here. 

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Why we are haunted by the beliefs we bury.

Why we are haunted by the beliefs we bury.

What if you held the belief that arguments and fights within a relationship are a sign of passion, because passionate people cannot contain their fire?

What if you simultaneously believed that in order to have a good and healthy relationship, you and your partner need to have open lines of communication where you discuss all things honestly, and make an effort to hear the other side without getting defensive?

How would you behave within a relationship if both of these beliefs were active within you at the same time?

Chances are you would find it difficult to feel fulfilled or at peace within your relationship.

You see, whenever you and your partner communicate with ease and listen to each other’s needs, you will most likely start feeling like the passion is draining out of your relationship. Without knowing why, you might pick a fight, in order to inject your relationship with passion. And once you are fighting, would you not feel that your relationship is falling apart because there is no more communication?

We hold conflicting and contradictory beliefs within ourselves all the time. We make something the object of our desire while we simultaneously define it to mean something terrible.

We strive for success at our business while believing things like, “Successful people are selfish and corrupt” and “It’s impossible to break into this industry.”

Then we take these conflicting beliefs and turn them into the foundation of our personalities by burying them into our blind spots.

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How fear shackles us and how we can break free.

How fear shackles us and how we can break free.

Our number one plague as humans is not death, it is the fear of death.

More precisely, it is fear itself.

We use fear to create and justify suffering, we use it as an excuse to inflict pain, we use it to barricade our hearts, our selves, our homes and our countries, and we use fear as a way to keep ourselves away from ever wanting, reaching for, or achieving that which we truly want.

While it is true that fear also has the power to save our lives, to help us think more quickly and efficiently when we’re under immediate threat, and even could help us trust our intuition in high-stake situations, still in our modern day existence, fear has become more of a liability than a blessing. In fact, fear, in many ways, has become the bane of our existence.

But what exactly is fear? Why does it exist? And how can we use it to improve our lives rather than ruin them?

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What is the one thing no one can live without?

What is the one thing no one can live without?

We spend most of our time on this planet focused on our differences.

This is well and good for the most part. After all, if we don’t, there is no reason for us to identify problems, which lead to solutions, or ask questions, which lead to answers. In other words, without our differences and without acknowledging them, we have no reason to create anything at all. So, it makes perfect sense that we evolve seeing what is NOT the same.

But as important as our differences are, and as much as they lead to our growth and evolution, I believe the amount of time we spend on them compared to the amount of time we spend feeling connected, satisfied, and unified is skewed. When we made our transitions into the lives we are living right now, I don’t think it was our intention to spend such disproportionate amount of time focused on problems, and so little time feeling satisfied by where we are.

Unfortunately, we are so used to focusing on what makes us different that we have forgotten that we are, at our core, the same. What unites us is far greater than what separates us.

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Is It Reckless to NOT Teach Spirituality in Schools?

Is It Reckless to NOT Teach Spirituality in Schools?

A few weeks ago, I was invited to speak to a group of 11th graders about Paulo Coelho's deeply impactful book "The Alchemist." I was the expert on the internal world who would explain the many spiritual themes and ideas presented in this small yet profound book, and answer any questions that had come up for the students during the reading of it. 

The students were wonderful. They and their teacher asked poignant questions and listened intently. Later, I received a message from their teacher telling me that the insights I had shared had inspired lively dialogue after my departure. I felt elated. 

A few days later, I was sharing this experience with a friend who is the mother of two young children. She was shocked that a public high school had allowed for such spiritual dialogue to take place during school hours.

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Can forgiveness set you free?

Can forgiveness set you free?

Most people do not know what true forgiveness is, and so, most people are not able to take advantage of the vast benefits forgiveness offers. 

Forgiveness has the power to set us free. It changes the way we see hurtful events and dissolves the past so we can move forward without the weight of unforgiven events. 

Forgiveness is always for our own benefit first. Sometimes, people are unwilling or unable to forgive because they feel doing so will somehow invalidate their experiences. Or they feel if they forgave a hurtful act it would somehow make that event okay. There is nothing farther from the truth, however. Forgiveness doesn't change events, it only changes what those events mean to us. It heals our relationship with those events so we can review and learn from them without the emotional baggages that compromise our ability to see clearly.  

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Your thoughts made you sick. Can they make you well?

Your thoughts made you sick. Can they make you well?

Most people believe they shape their lives and their futures with their thoughts.

And yet, most of those same people have never written down what they would like to achieve in their lives, they believe their happiness is dependent on circumstances and events beyond their control, and they think their beliefs and emotional states don't have an impact on their health. 

In other word, most people, while intrinsically knowing the power of creation embedded within then, give this power away completely and choose to sleepwalk through life. 

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Are your dreams on the other side of Thank You?

Are your dreams on the other side of Thank You?

Gratitude is perhaps one of the most popular tools used by anyone in the business of wellbeing. Whether you're a life coach, a psychotherapist, a spiritual guide, or someone's best friend or parent, ignoring the powerful effects of gratitude in the guidance you provide can be borderline irresponsible.  

Gratitude is the quality of being thankful. But how can this simple act of giving thanks be so powerful? 

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Are false beliefs keeping you from living your life's purpose?

Are false beliefs keeping you from living your life's purpose?

What is our life's purpose? 
Why are we here?
Is there something we're supposed to do?
Is there one unique gift each of us is given? One unique purpose we're supposed to accomplish? One major test we need to pass?
Or is our purpose a moving target -- always evolving, always changing? 
How can we find our life's purpose? What do we look for it, and where? 
And if there is something we need to do, why does life get in our way?
Why does it often feel like we're swimming upstream?

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Is life some big test you have to pass?

Is life some big test you have to pass?

What is life? 

No, seriously. What is it? And why are we doing it? 

Sometimes -- well, maybe most of the time -- it may feel like life is nothing but a succession of obstacles strung together for the purpose of testing our endurance. Or perhaps, for the amusement of some celestial beings sitting far above, enjoying the ever-burning flame of our never-ending drama (not unlike our own love of reality television, I suppose).

When we do find brief pockets of relief, we often stumble into them almost by accident. Seldom, can we revel in our momentary joy without anticipation of its inevitable end. Phrases like, "waiting for the other shoe to drop" and "seems too good to be true" are sprinkled freely and frequently across every experience that does not feel like a test.

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Is your body even real?

Is your body even real?

Perhaps the biggest lie we have been told is that we are physical beings having physical experiences. This cannot be farther from the truth. We are, in fact, vibrational beings observing ourselves and our physical experiences into existence. 

This bold statement is not rooted in philosophy, though it might sound philosophical. It does not come from any religion, though it could be interpreted as a religious belief. It’s not even spiritual, though many ancient mystics and spiritual guides would agree with it. This statement is rooted in the laws of physics. 

If you haven’t been keeping up with the many mind-bending, “reality”- shattering findings of the last few decades that are forcing scientists to re-examine every assumption history has made about the nature of matter, energy, light, particles, and time itself, …

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Can you logic your way into a better feeling life?

Can you logic your way into a better feeling life?

We all know how powerful our minds are. We're told whatever we put our minds to, we can achieve, and that our minds create our reality. We may even have experienced this incredible creative power of our minds when we imagined what we desired into physical manifestation. 

But can we logic our way to a better feeling life? Can we think ourselves into happiness when we are far from it? 

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